The Aircraft Electronics Association’s board of
directors selected Dan Walker, past director
of domestic marketing for King Radio Corp.,
as the AEA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient
Walker will be honored during the official opening ceremonies Thursday, April 8, at the 53rd annual AEA International Convention & Trade Show in Orlando, Fla.
Walker’s interest in the field of aviation electronics began when he joined the Air Force and was sent to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, for Officer Candidate School. At school, he worked on navigator/electronic counter measures, spending more than four years in both airborne and ground work.
Walker’s last duty area was at the Olathe Naval Air Station in Olathe, Kan. By then, he had earned his pilot ratings at flying clubs across the country, and in the mid-1960s, Wilson’s Flying Service in Kansas City hired him. One day, Walker was flying a charter passenger who would change the course of his life. “I flew a gentleman named Wayne Ross who had an ad agency and was doing work for King Radio Corp.,” Walker said. “I mentioned that I was about to get out of the Air Force and wanted to do something with electronics — and that’s when he told me about his advertising client.” A lunch interview soon followed with Glenn Bergmann, vice president of marketing for King Radio, and Bud Glover, well-known vice president of sales for King Radio. Walker was hired as Southeast regional sales manager — one of three regional managers — and was moved to Atlanta in the late 1960s.
From Atlanta, he transferred to Memphis in 1970, followed by Dallas in 1976. Later, Walker relocated to King Radio’s headquarters offices in Olathe to set up a dealer-direct program. Like others who worked for King Radio during this time, Walker recalls the company’s extraordinary leadership. “Bob Cox put together an infrastructure to support everything we did,” Walker said. “If one department would say they couldn’t do something, Bob would
ask, ‘Why not?’ We had a smooth operation.”
Throughout the AEA membership, Walker is credited with his style of leadership in working with and supporting the dealer network. In a controversial move, King Radio had decided to no longer work through wholesalers, but to work directly with the dealers. The plan was to have 10 regional sales people to staff five regions: one manager on the road and his paired counterpart at headquarters. “I’m proud of the people who got their aviation start in this program,” Walker said. “They have gone on to have extremely successful careers in the industry.”
When asked about working for King Radio founder Ed King, Walker said, “He was just an extremely innovative man. He is the type of person who, when you talked to him, you had to be careful what you said because he was always thinking way ahead of you. He is a tremendous engineer and knew what people wanted when it comes to flying — and he was smart enough to hire Bob Cox to run the company. “(King’s) key to success was timing, innovation and hiring the right people.”
Walker left King in 1991, with the title of director of domestic marketing. He spent the next four years at Goodrich. “When Goodrich faded out of the general aviation repair business, I faded out, too,” Walker said.
Today, Walker and his wife, Dyana, live in Kerrville, Texas, and stay busy with landscaping, photography and traveling. “The only part of my life that is still involved in aviation is when I look up and see the Mooney’s flying
into Kerrville,” Walker said.
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Founded in 1957, the Aircraft Electronics Association represents nearly 1,300 member companies in more than 40 countries, including approved maintenance organizations specializing in maintenance, repair and installation of aircraft electronics systems in general aviation aircraft. The AEA membership also includes manufacturers of aircraft electronics equipment, instrument repair facilities, instrument manufacturers, airframe manufacturers, test equipment manufacturers, major distributors, engineers and educational institutions.